July 24, 2019
Flirting Can Be a Good Thing
“Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages” (Song of Solomon 7:11 NIV).
Friend to Friend
It was time to clean out my attic, at least some of it. I pulled out several pieces of furniture to take to a consignment store, three lamps to take to a nonprofit thrift shop, and many items that went straight to the trash. In one corner sat memorabilia we’d saved from my husband’s parents’ attic years ago. That’s when I saw it. Tucked under a dusty old wing chair hid a tattered box. I pulled back the musty flaps and slid out what appeared to be a letter. I gasped as I lifted the frail envelope and unfolded sacred words from Steve’s dad, Bruce, to the petite beauty “with chestnut hair, a Coke-bottle figure, and plenty of book smarts.”
More than five hundred letters written over two and a half years had been stowed away in a cardboard box . . . until now. I pulled out the fragile treasures one by one and read intimate words of sacred devotion from a man head over heels for his high school sweetheart. The letters began as a soldier writing to the girl back home—one he pursued with pen and ink. And then about a third of the way through, the letters changed. The envelopes were no longer addressed to Mary Ellen Boone, but to Mary Ellen Jaynes.
The Song of Solomon is a lot like those letters hidden in a box. Tucked between the introspective book of Ecclesiastes and the prophetic book of Isaiah is a work of poetry that memorialized mutual attraction, romantic love, sexual desire, and enduring marriage between a man smitten and a woman bedazzled.
I devoured the pages of the Song to discover what the couple did to make it work. What I saw was that they flirted and fought, made out and made up, served and savored, and never stopped exploring new ways to keep their marriage fresh.
Why is it that passionate romance routinely fizzles out over the years? Why does a soul mate so easily become a roommate? Why does the rapid heartbeat of excitement in the early years morph into the heavyheartedness of disappointment in the later years?
There are many reasons why passion cools, but it doesn’t have to. That certainly isn’t God’s plan. He has a much different desire for your marriage and mine. Yes, sexual intimacy will change as we grow older. Hormones wane. Libido lessens. Stamina decreases. Bodies don’t always cooperate. That’s a given. But I believe intimacy can grow and mature into something sweeter, deeper, and more profound than any clothes-ripping frantic frenzy ever could be.
The Shulammite in the Song was a wise woman who took deliberate action to keep her marriage strong. I envision her in the next stanza sauntering up to her husband as he’s overseeing the fields. She whispered in his ear, and her warm breath teased his neck. Flirting with him still.
Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
there I will give you my love.
The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved. (Song of Solomon 7:11-13)
Whoa, that might not be what you’d expect from a devotion or your daily Bible reading, but God made sure it was in the Bible for a reason. Here’s what we know about this couple.
In chapter 1 Solomon came bounding over the hills, coaxing the Shulammite to come away and enjoy the spring day with him. Now, after they’ve been married for a while, she’s coaxing him to steal away to spend some alone time with her. No doubt Solomon had been busy running the kingdom, overseeing his land, and ruling his people. Just like all married couples, they needed to get away for some time by themselves. I can just picture her tugging on his robe and pulling him away from his work.
“Come, my dodi (beloved)” she coaxed. “Let’s go to the countryside like we used to. Let’s spend the night in one of those quaint little cottages where no one knows who we are or where we are. We can open the windows and enjoy the scent of the henna blossom wafting on the breeze. I will give you my love, and you can enjoy my garden.” Then she winked and coyly teased, “I have the old fruit that you enjoy so much, and I even have some new fruit—a few new tricks up my sleeve—that I think you’ll enjoy as well.”
I don’t think it took too long for Solomon to change his schedule, cancel his meetings, and pack his bags.
So what can we learn from the Shulammite in this passage?
- Take time away for just you and your husband.
- Remember to have fun together.
- Flirting is a good thing…as long as it’s with your own husband!
Lord, thank You for my husband. Help me to not get so busy taking care of life, that I forget to take care of love. Show both of us ways to keep our marriage a priority.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Some people are uncomfortable with the Song of Solomon and have tried to make it solely allegorical. And while we can see Jesus in every book of the Bible, the Song is clearly about the love between a woman and a man. So why study it?
1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
From today’s little snippet of the Song, what can you do today to let your husband know that you love him?
More From the Girlfriends
For too long, the church’s message about sex has been “don’t do it” before marriage and “don’t talk about it” after. As a result, we have generations that are confused about what God really intended. The Song of Solomon is a beautiful picture of intimacy between a husband and a wife that helps us see intimacy from God’s perspective, avoid the dangers of growing indifference, and committing to a forever kind of love. You’ll find yourself saying, “Is that really in the Bible?” Yep. It certainly is. God made sure of it. Pre-order Lovestruck: Discovering God’s Design for Romance, Marriage, and Sexual Intimacy from the Song of Solomon before August 9 and receive a FREE DOWNLOADABLE BIBLE STUDY GUIDE. Go to www.lovestruckbook.com for more details.
Originally published Wednesday, 24 July 2019.